The best cymbals are cast from bronze alloys which is a mixture of copper and tin and traces of silver. A common mixture is 80% copper and 20% tin. There are, however, some cymbals that are stamped, not cast, in bronze; but these are not as common. The majority of these stamped cymbals are of lower quality, except for certain brands, such as the Paiste “RUDE” line of high–quality cymbals. Some cymbals are hand hammered into their shape, while others are hammered by machine. Purists generally preferred the hand–hammered type, which tend to be more expensive due to the extra labor involved. And after hammering, most cymbals are then lathed to reach their final thickness and tonality. Lathing is what leaves those circular grooves in cymbals. Some cymbals aren't lathed, leaving the darker, non–grooved surface.

Because there are many different sounds and effects available, you should decide what you want in a cymbal. Here are some factors that influence the sound of a cymbal.
DIAMETER: The larger the cymbal’s diameter, the louder the cymbal.
PROFILE: The higher the profile of the cymbal, the higher it’s pitch.
WEIGHT: In heavier cymbals of the same diameter: pitch is higher, response is slower, and sustain is longer.
The BELL SIZE affects the amount of overtones. The larger the bell, the more overtones. Hence, bell–less ride cymbals have much less overtones and sound ‘drier’ than standard ride cymbals.

The Ride cymbal is used usually to sustain the beat. It is usually played on the middle area or on the bell.

A Crash cymbal is used to punctuate and accent the beat.

A Crash/Ride is a dual purpose cymbal with some characteristics of both; but also may be used strictly as one or the other according to taste.

Hi–Hats are matched opening and closing cymbals mounted on a special stand that has a foot petal to raise and lower the top cymbal. They are used to ride with, and to get a ‘chick’ sound when closed without hitting. They are also used to get interesting ‘swish’ sounds.

cymbals are a cross of a splash and a crash cymbal. They are usually mounted up–side–down, and have an exiting and explosive sound; sometimes with a sort of “trash–can” type effect.

are usually large traditional instruments, and come in many types, most of which hang sideways.

A Splash is traditionally small fast crash, sounding like it’s name–a “splash”. I like to use splash at a point when a regular crash is expected— but the space HOME in the next bar has "room" in it sonically, to hear subtleties. Like if it gets really quiet in the next bar— so the sound of the splash is an "interesting point" that quietly hangs there for a few beats after... I use a splash other times similar to where I may use a china—for the interesting accent. Splashes can also be
used when you're hitting more than 1 cymbal accent in a row— like 2 or 3 8th notes in a row—2 of them on crashes 1 of them on the splash, as it has a distinct sound from a crash so you'll make out the separate notes. Don't overuse! And be careful -splashes are very fragile compared to other types of cymbals—using with a snare (hitting a splash & snare at same time for accent effect) can lead to drummers hitting it too hard and cracking it too soon.

A sleeve is used to protect your cymbal from getting cracked and worn down by the stand. They are cheap and available at any music shop, and are highly recommended to help save your cymbals. Always make sure that you have proper felt washers to protect your cymbals from hitting metal on your stands.

When choosing cymbals: don't just listen to one person's opinion and don't just follow marketing
or hype. Don't just buy something because it looks like it would be a 'Thrash-industrial' cymbal
(like Rude, Z, etc. —although they may be what you want. Listen to different cymbals. Try some
that may not seem like the correct type for you. Looks can be deceiving. They may end being
exactly what you are looking for. I have a Z series crash & it was great for certain types of sounds
(industrial, hard, heavy, etc.) Also check out Paiste Rude. These stamped unlathed cymbals
have a harsher sound than cast & lathed cymbals. Less subtle—so make sure that's what you
want. I also play these and they have a sound you also might like.

If you can't bring your current cymbals in to compare, write down the model & type & size of
all your cymbals
& play them before you go to shop. Try to remember their sounds (I know—
hard to do—think range, decay, brightness, tone, compare to each other, etc). At the shop try to set up the cymbals close to what you already own to play against any cymbal you are considering —you want your set to not clash too much, and since $$ is an issue (isn't it always...?)
you don't want to spend money on cymbals that are too similar sounding. You want to find variety. Also—you will be spending money, so buy at a shop that will let you try them first
and will let you play them against other cymbals. HOME